Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Your Mileage May Vary...

WARNING:  If you are a member of the "quilt police", you will probably want to stop reading right now!

Today I'm going to tell you about two "Quilting Commandments" that I decided to try not doing to see if it made a difference with a couple of issues I've been struggling with for quite some time.

1)  Three years ago I took a quilting class/retreat from a renowned, nationally-known quilt instructor.  I took my trusty Singer 221 Featherweight to the class and I had a non-original 1/4" foot on it.  It was one of those 1/4" flanged feet except that the flange had been removed.  (I had found that the width of the foot was a perfect scant 1/4", but if I followed the flange, my seam was 1/4", not a "scant 1/4" like patterns call for.  Also, I found the flange awkward to use when making HST's [half-square triangles] as the flange pulled the fabric out of shape when the flange traveled over it, so I had Andy remove the flange.  If I ran the fabric right down the edge of the foot, I had a nice scant 1/4" seam.)

flanged 1/4" foot
When the instructor saw this she told me that I really shouldn't use non-original feet on a featherweight because of the way the feed dogs are...the right feed dog is shorter than the left one...and the original foot was made to work specifically with those feed dogs.

Original foot

So I put the original foot back on and tried my best to sew a straight 1/4" seam.  The problem, though, is that with the original foot on the machine, the feed dogs pull the fabric to the left slightly after it leaves the needle area.  I'm trying to feed the fabric in straight but I'm fighting those feed dogs all the way, struggling to sew a straight seam even while using a piece of plastic as a seam guide. 

Because of this, I had put away my Featherweight for the last couple years and didn't even use it because it frustrated me so.  Since pulling out the Featherweight and using it for the past several days, once again my frustration level was rising.  

Today I thought I'd pull out that 1/4" foot and see if I could do a better job with it.  If I couldn't, then I was putting the machine away...possibly for good this time.  

Well....lo and behold...with using the modern 1/4" foot and keeping the piece of plastic on the machine as a seam guide, it WORKS!  The fabric does not get fed wonky by the feed dogs!  It goes straight out behind the needle like it should!!!  

YAY for me!!!  First "rule" debunked!!!

Now for the second "rule/commandment":  "Always 'set' your seam with the iron before pressing the fabric open."  The thinking behind this is that when you touch your iron to the closed seam, you are causing the sewing thread to "shrink" and tighten into the fabric.  

The problem I have, though, is that when I then go to press the pieces open the seam doesn't want to lay flat.  I especially find that irritating when pressing HST's...there is always that one side that sticks up and flaps in the breeze even after pressing...and I mean PRESSING with lots of heat and pressure!!!

So today I tried just pressing the pieces open (with the seam going towards the dark fabric) without first pressing it closed.  GUESS WHAT???  The block lays soooooooooo much flatter now!!!

BOOM!!! from now on I won't be "setting my seams" before pressing them.  I'm such a rebel!!! If you find blocks that don't lay flat are a nuisance to you, too, you may want to try this for yourself!  (I promise I won't report you to the Quilt Police!!  


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snowmageddan 2016...

If you live in the United States or Canada, you no doubt have heard about "Jonas", the winter storm that is currently wreaking havoc on the eastern part of the USA.  Where we live in West Virginia was directly in the path of the storm from about 11 AM on Friday till about 5 PM Saturday.

We had plenty of warning about the storm, so I did our normal weekend grocery shopping on Thursday.  The stores were a NIGHTMARE, but I persevered and made it through!  (Trust me, you do NOT want to be in a grocery store in the 24 hours before a storm is predicted!)  Businesses and offices started announcing on Thursday that they would be closed by noon on Friday.  The road crews were on alert and mobilized.  West Virginia and the eastern seaboard were READY!  

Once Andy got home from work on Friday, I knew that neither of us would be going anywhere for a few days.  We were both off of work for the weekend, so there was nothing to do but hunker down and relax and enjoy the forced R & R.  

My plan for the weekend was to spend the majority of it in my sewing room.  I spent Friday cutting out the pieces for a new quilt project...a "jar" quilt made from novelty fabrics...a kind of "I Spy" quilt, but incorporating the jar theme into it.  

Here are all my pieces cut and stacked...

and today I started piecing the quilt on my 1957 Singer Featherweight...

Here's one of the blocks completed...they measure 6.5" x 8.5" unfinished...

This afternoon I ventured outside to take some pictures as the storm was winding down.

This measurement was taken on the sidewalk in front of our house...


A view of our property...garage, carport, and house...

Another view of our house...the hump on the right side of this picture is actually one of our vehicles completely covered with snow! 

This was the view from our carport this afternoon as Andy shoveled our driveway...

The view of our street to the north of our house...

...and to the south...

If you were in the path of this storm, I hope that you and your family are all safe!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

2015 Parade of Quilts...

Quote for the Day:

I have never done a "Year-In-Review" post before about my quilts, but I thought I'd do one for 2015...just because.

Please join me on this trip down 2015 Memory Lane...

My first finish was actually a finish-up of a quilt that I started in December 2014..."Vintage Embroidered Stars".  This was also the first (and only, so far) quilt that I sent out to be long-arm quilted by someone.  Machine-pieced, my own pattern...

My next project was "Mr. Chillingsworth", a gift for my chiropractor that I machine pieced and hand quilted, purchased pattern.  This quilt now hangs in one of his treatment rooms.  

By March I had a severe case of the "winter blahs" and made this Spring table runner for my dining room table.  Machine pieced and machine quilted, "Disappearing 4-Patch", free on-line tutorial...

Next up was another "Choo-choo Train" quilt...the fourth one I've made so far!  I give this quilt to each of my grandchildren on their first birthday (the fronts are the same but the backings are different for each one.  This one was for Clark who turned one in June.  Machine appliqued and machine quilted, from a purchased pattern...

In June, I made this "signature" quilt for Kate and Jon for their wedding in July where they had their guests sign it.  There was no pattern for this...I just got the idea from seeing a picture online and made up my own pattern from there, machine pieced and machine quilted.  It was also my first time working with batiks! 

In June a friend and co-worker of mine was diagnosed with cancer and I made this quilt for her...also a "signature" quilt...signed by our co-workers.  Machine pieced and machine quilted from free online "Wonky Stars" pattern.  These blocks were my "leader/ender" project from 2013 or 2014...

And the last quilt for the year was the hand-quilting project that I had been working on since April and finished in November...Erin & Dale's vintage embroidered quilt...

Along with these quilts, I also made 2 receiving blankets for new babies that arrived in 2015...Franco and Rylen!!

I know that I'm not nearly as productive as many quilters/crafters out there...but I do my craft for the joy it brings me and to spread happiness and smiles to those I love!


Saturday, December 19, 2015

What I've Been Working On...

A couple of weeks ago I began piecing this flower quilt.  The pattern is named "Cottage Blossoms" and is by Lella Boutique.

As you can see, the top is finished but I will put it away for the holidays.  In January, I will bring it out, sandwich it, and machine quilt it on my Juki TL2000Qi.  I don't know if I will piece a backing for it or buy wide backing fabric for it.  I have TONS of yardage that I purchased specifically to make pieced backings, so I'm leaning towards doing that to use up some of my stash.

While piecing the flower quilt, I made these 12 crumb blocks as my "leader/enders".  They are 6.5" square.  (Crumbs are the little pieces of leftover fabric that are too small to be cut into usable strips after you are done making a quilt.)

I have a whole bunch more that I made previously, so I'll add these to them.  I'm thinking of adding star points and making them into star blocks...these crumb blocks would be the center of the stars.

Here's a close-up of the blocks so you can see the variety of fabrics that went into them.  (If you have received a quilt from me, you may see some of the leftover fabrics in these blocks!)

Making those blocks really didn't make a dent in my "crumbs" stash.  (These are 2 of my 3 crumbs boxes.)

Meanwhile, I'm continuing to "big stitch" quilt on the "Pastel Baskets" quilt that is in my frame.

Andy & I have broached the subject of sectioning off a portion of the basement and turning it into a sewing room for me.  Two and a half years ago we moved my sewing room into the "master bedroom" and we took one of the two smaller bedrooms for our bedroom.  However, I really have "outgrown" the master bedroom.  One of the issues with my current sewing room is that there are 2 windows, a door, and a fireplace that take up room/wall space, thus biting into the "usable" space.  If we build a room in the basement there would only be the door into it to take a "bite" out of the usable room, so not only would the room be slightly bigger, it would have more usable space, thus making it more functional.   

We have just started discussing it and it would take some work to get it up and running, so don't everybody hold your breath right just yet.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Getting Ready For Christmas...

Quote For the Day:
"Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree.
In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall." 
~ Larry Wilde

I really miss my kids at Christmas...mainly because as soon as they were old enough, I had them put up the tree and do the decorating!  Now that Andy & I are empty-nesters, the Christmas decorating is left up to me and therefore doesn't usually get done till the last weekend before Christmas.  In fact, if neither of the kids are coming home for Christmas (like last year) I don't even bother putting up a tree or decorating...other than throwing a wreath on the front door and calling it good!

But this year, Paul and Trinity and their boys are coming for Christmas, so the tree is up!

And lo and behold...Andy offered to put up outside lights!!!  It's been probably 13 years since we've had outside Christmas lights on the house!!! I have to say that it really looks lovely all lit up!

I even added a festive bow to the vintage concrete Boston Terrier statue that sits on our front porch!!!  :)


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Thanksgiving Recap...

Let's see...we're only slightly over 2 weeks past Thanksgiving post is right on time!  LOL

Our daughter, Erin, and her family came in for a few days to spend Thanksgiving with us!  We had a great visit and a very nice Thanksgiving dinner!

Clark showed us what "food coma" looks like...

...because when you've had enough, you've had enough!!!  

Clark and his dad, Dale, also provided the dinner entertainment!!! 

Sera and Clark with our dog, Ginger...

While they were here I gifted Erin & Dale with their wedding quilt!  This top was purchased from Ebay already hand-embroidered...I just hand-quilted it.  It is 100" x 100"...a king-size!!!